Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How should one vote to change the anti-smacking legislation?

Andy has started a topic Christian Vote 2008. He starts a new blog for it and lists his recommendations for how Christians should vote. This blog is about Section 59 and restoring parental authority so I will say how I am likely to vote and why and recommend how others - Christian or not should vote to restore parental authority.

I will be voting on one issue and one issue only and that is which party has a policy of restoring parental authority. Although I will be focusing on the one issue I will consider other things about the party. Firstly, I will consider what the likelihood of the party making it into Parliament is. Secondly, I will consider the honesty of the party leaders.

Parental authority

Obviously, the right of parents to use reasonable physical force to discipline children for purposes of correction is a major consideration. The second issue for me is right of both parents to be informed when authorities know that their underage daughter is pregnant and certainly before an abortion is arranged. A third issue for me is harm minimisation being taught to children in school in relation to drugs or sex. It is sending mixed messages to children to say do not take drugs and delay sex till you are older but if you choose to ignore this advice here is how to do it.

Other issues

Some people who signed the petition may have other issues that they consider far more important than parental authority like the economy, crime or other moral issues like abortion or euthanasia. This article is not for them but for those whose number one issue is parental authority. Large parties hate individuals or pressure groups that focus on one issue. They keep trying to change the subject and you keep saying I did not come to speak to you about that issue but this issue and that is how I will base my vote.

Parties opposed to the removal of Section 59

The parties opposed to the removal of Section 59 are The Family Party, The Kiwi Party, The Pacific Party and ACT. There may be very small parties unlikely to attract a thousand votes that oppose the removal of Section 59 but I will ignore them.

The Family Party

The Family Party is strongly opposed to the removal of Section 59. It also in favour of legislation so parents would be notified before their underage daughters have an abortion arranged for them. The downside is the low likelihood of them making it into Parliament. The chance of them making the 5% is near zero. A spoke to Richard Lewis a while ago and he told me of internal polls in key electorates. I cannot recall the figures he gave me so I will not guess but they were certainly better than the chances of gaining the 5% nationally. Hopefully, a Family Party member will give us an update.

Another downside for me is the Family Party’s links to the Destiny Church and Bishop Brian Tamaki. I personally do not like the idea of someone heading a church and gaining so much personal wealth from many families in his church who would be struggling financially. Having said that, my vote will be going the the Family Party unless National listens to reason.

The Kiwi Party

Like The Family Party, The Kiwi Party is strongly opposed to the removal of Section 59 and is in favour of parental notification in the case of underage pregnancy. According to independent polling the chance of the Kiwi Party making 5% nationally or Larry winning Tauranga is virtually nil.

The downside with the Kiwi Party is simply whether they operate in an ethical manner. Like Andy, I am very concerned about the way they used signatures and addresses from their unsuccessful petition has been used to solicit votes and funds. Andy in his Christian Vote 2008 Blog states why he thinks this is wrong. I agree with his reasons and have few of my own. I will not go into them all here but will say this action has been enough to make me change my vote and I have been a Kiwi Party member from the start.

The Kiwi Party claims they have had good legal advice and what they have done is legal. This may or may not be the case – time will tell. I still think it was quite wrong for them to have done this. Firstly, I started collecting signatures after meeting Craig Hill of Unity for Liberty. That is a group opposed to the anti-smacking legislation but non political. This is but one group that helped in the collection of signatures opposing this anti-family legislation. When Craig started his group the collection of signatures had slowed right down. In my opinion the goal would not have been achieved without Craig. It definitely would not have been achieved without the effort and money from a lot of groups not connected to the Kiwi Party.

The second issue is that I gave an assurance to many people particularly women who did not like to give details like their full address and age that this information would only be used by government employees that would check the details to make sure they are on the voters role. Their names and details have been copied in to PDF files and circulated to members of the Kiwi Party in lots of a few hundred to post with letter soliciting funds and votes (click here for an example).

How secure is this information? If a disgruntled former member of the Kiwi Party put these files on a website would they be breaching the Privacy ACT? Would the person who sent out the PDF files be in breach or both? I wonder if their legal advisors considered the above scenario. I am not suggesting anyone do so?

The point I am making is that the Kiwi Party has made a liar out me and many others in the assurance I have given many people signing the petitions.

The Pacific Party

Like the other two parties, The Pacific Party is strongly opposed to the removal of Section 59 and is in favour or parental notification in the case of underage pregnancy. The problem I have with the Pacific Party is its leader Philip Field is before the Court on very serious criminal charges. I know he has not been proven guilty of anything. However, I believe that an MP should be expected to conduct himself in ethical manner regardless of the law. Even if he had stood trial and been found not guilty I would not support him because of the way he has dealt with immigration matters and also the purchase of a house off a constituent who came to him for help. I feel his actions were unethical for an MP.


ACT is the only party which all its MPs voted against the anti-smacking bill. However, both its current MPs voted for legislation that allows school counsellors to arrange abortions for underage girls without parents being notified. There are other polices that I consider anti-family but their policy on underage abortions is enough to put off voting ACT. I am not totally anti-abortion but I regard this issue more one of parental authority than abortion per se. The only way I would consider voting ACT was if ACT had a policy of all conscience votes having to be ratified at a general referendum before they became law. I asked Rodney if ACT supported such an idea at a Family First Forum he said that he did. After the Forum I tried to find out if ACT would adopt such a policy. I was told that it would seriously be considered. Despite numerous requests and assurances I have not been able to find out if ACT adopted what Rodney thought was a good idea. I suspect the lack of response indicates they have not.

One plus for ACT is that they are almost certainly going to make it to Parliament. However, if ACT was offered a choice of lower taxes or changing the anti-smacking law, which would they choose.


Voting National is definitely the best way to get rid of a government which has brought in much anti-family legislation against the will of the vast majority of the public. If National were to change its policy on this anti-parent piece of legislation I would definitely vote National. I cannot understand why John Key ever came up with this so-called compromise. I find it even harder to understand he will not listen to the will of the people with polling so close.


I am not really trying to tell people how to vote. I am trying to generate discussion and debate as to how one can best use their vote to get rid of this piece of anti-family legislation. I hope the discussion could be limited to parental authority and not other moral issues. There are people who signed the petition from all walks of life, religions and will have differing views on a wide range of moral and ethical issues.

My vote will be going to the family party unless National changes its position on this issue. I can understand many petitioners not wanting to vote for the Family Party because of links to Brian Tamaki. If this is the case then I would recommend voting for the Kiwi Party. You may not be as concerned over the issue of the petition details as I am.

Neither of these parties is likely to make it into Parliament. I would have a lot more respect for their leaders if they were honest with there members and the public and acknowledged this but still asked for their vote but explained why it would not be wasted.

Let us suppose National loses by a small number of votes and we end up with the result of the five headed monster Key warns us about. It would likely not last long and the next National leader might learn to listen to the people.

A vote for ACT would certainly help put pressure on National to change the anti-smacking legislation. The law relating to parental notification has been in place for a number of years now and is unlikely to change.

The only way to change the anti-smacking law is to keep the pressure on. One good way to do it is to write to John Key or your National MP if you have one. Send a letter by smail. Emails will have little effect.

I will await responses with interest.